The National Jamboree is an event offered every four years by the Boy Scouts of America that brings together thousands of Scouts and leaders from across the nation and the world. It is one of the truly unique experiences for a boy in Scouting.
But the cost to send a young boy to jamboree represents a sacrifice on the part of the Scout and his family. It is a financial sacrifice and for moms a sacrifice of sending their son away from home.
It is a pre-mission preparation course.
Often the decision to attend must be made years in advance so that funds can be raised. It is an exciting opportunity but filled with sadness on the day of departure and rejoicing on the day of return. Parents, especially mom’s, want to hear every single detail of the trip but instead often see the growth and maturity through changes in behavior.
Matthew Hornung, a Scout who attended the jamboree, wrote this letter to the Boy Scouts of America about his experience:
Dear Mr. Brock and Mr. Perry,
I would like to write to thank you, and through you the countless volunteers and staff members present, for the amazing experience provided by the National Jamboree this summer. I’m sure that my reaction and description is similar to countless others you’ve heard and seen, but I thought it was important that I share it with you regardless.
When I first began hearing about and registering for the National Jamboree over a year ago, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was or why I was going. I’d heard great things from other Scouts in my troop who attended in 2010, but I still wasn’t highly informed of the nature of the event. Sure, I’d heard about Philmont as a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing experience that is regarded with intense respect by all who have attended it, but I hadn’t necessarily heard quite as much hype about the National Jamboree.
Well, I don’t know what was lost on kids who went to the Jamboree before, but the event was most certainly a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing experience. Specifically for me, it had a tremendous effect on how I view Scouting and life as a whole.
The first thing the Jamboree did for me was inspire me about all things Scouting. Not only was the event something so huge and awesome that I felt I had to take advantage of every minute of it, but it pushed me to want to do the same with Scouting at home. I came home with a plan in mind to attend every Troop, Crew, and Lodge event that I possibly could for the remainder of my three years as a Scout. I came home with a completely different idea about where I wanted to put as much energy as possible – into Scouting. I’ve also made up my mind not to let Scouting stop for me after I hit 18 in three years. I’m going to continue way beyond that. A part of me even wants to have your job someday.
But even beyond that, the Jamboree also inspired me to do the same with life as a whole. I feel that I understand now an importance in seizing the opportunities life presents to me. I feel I can’t waste a moment of my youth, much less my life overall. My eyes have been opened to the world that’s out there to explore, and things not to miss out on. Now I’m determined to do everything I can to take advantage of all that and, and live life to its fullest.
Just earlier this month, my family took a vacation in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. We’d been many times before, and it has become standard for us to laze around, not doing much for two weeks. But this year I decided to implement change in that pattern. I spent the trip pointing all sorts of things in the area that we’d never done, despite our years of vacationing there, I was constantly willing to try new things, step out of my comfort zone, and embrace what there was to do. The whole time I was thinking about the Jamboree, and the realizations it had awakened in me. And as a result, everyone thought of the vacation more along the lines of “a blast” than “a nice time”. Sort of like Scouts, but the difference being that Scouts is always “a blast”.
Overall, words cannot describe the immense effect that the Jamboree had on me. My memories of that week and a half this July will stay with me for years to come. I made great new friends I thought I never would, and we’ve already got plans to go to NOAC 2015 together. It’s that sort of things that Scouting does for you – the things that matter in the long run.
As a recent Eagle Scout, I thought I’d “completed the Scouting journey”, if you will – both the literal journey in Scouting itself, but also the endless other journey in Scouting, the one that spreads into your life, your character, and who you are. But I was dead wrong. And you showed me exactly how wrong I was – thank you.
Knox Trail Council
Author: Heidi Sanders | Marketing & PR Director, Utah National Parks Council
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